Garden Blog

This is where you can come to learn more about the Lawn Alternative Demonstration Gardens. We will share our experience (good and bad) and you can visit this site any time to follow the garden's progress. 

Microclover – what makes this different than my lawn at home?

At first glance this does look like a tradition lawn but it is the seed mixture it what makes it special.

The ‘grass’ seed is actually a deep rooting fescue mixture.  What that means is that once the tuft is once established if installed properly it should not need supplemental watering. While it is pretty amazing it is not magical and does need water over the first year for establishment. 

There is also microclover seeds mixed in with the turf seeds.  The microclover helps pull nitrogen from the air into the ground to feed the grass. I remember reading somewhere that microclover is like a built in fertilizer factory.

As for planting purely microclover and no grass seed, the jury is still out.  Maybe that can be our next project.

July 29, 2019

Green Carpet ... Is that what it is supposed to look like?

This is a question that we have been getting a lot!  The short answer is yes.

So the green carpet was the only demonstration garden plant that was installed from seed, so it took a while to get going, then we had the crab grass explosion! The green carpet is has small green leaves, green stems and teeny tiny green flowers that you have to look really close to see it. It is doing the best at the high school so far.  You should swing by and take a look, think creeping thyme but greener and less woody.  

Feel free to hop the fence and walk over to a patch that is growing well and see how it feels, it is surprisingly soft!

We are still fighting the crab grass fight at Junction Park but we at slowly making progress and the Library green carpet hasn’t done too much.  We are looking to plant some green carpet plugs or spread some additional seeds at all locations towards the end of August to see if we can give it a better chance to succeed and help it fill in.  

July 29, 2019

Oh my Weeds!

June and July is considered high crabgrass season.  All those seeds that have been lying dormant in the soil since last fall finally got nice and toasty and began to grow, vigorously! I left for vacation mid-June and when I came back at the beginning of July, the gardens were inundated with weeds.  In our spare time Emma, the Public Works team, and I spent the next few weeks getting the gardens back into shape and pulling lots of crabgrass.  We are finally back in general maintenance mode and for the most part, weeding maintenance should take less than a couple hours a week.  

July 19, 2019

Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

Carex pensylvanica, commonly called Pennsylvania sedge, is a fine-textured perennial sedge that is native to this region.  The plant will grow to a maximum height of 8-inches. It has been noted for its dry-soil tolerance and its ability to grow in full sun or full shade. This sedge grows mainly during the cool shoulder seasons, putting on most of its growth in the spring. You can either opt to leave it uncut or cut it down to about 4-inches or so in the late spring for a more manicured traditional lawn look.

Pennsylvania sedge does not propagate well from seeds, so instead we installed 2-inch plugs. The plugs will spread between 3-8 inches each year depending on the soil moisture of the site, so it will likely take 2-3 (or maybe more) years for the plugs to fill in and look more like the lawns you are used to seeing.

July 15, 2019

Fun fact - Pennsylvania sedge supports over 30 species of insects and wildlife!

Congratulations Class of 2019!!!

Thank you CCHS AP Environmental Science students for all your assistance with garden instillation.  It was fun to hear one of you telling your friend about the plantings as you walked by in the afternoon.

May 31, 2019

2019-06-01 School Overview Graduation (2)

Spreading the Green Carpet Seeds at the Library

This project has been so fun to work on with the Concord Free Public Library staff. Director Kerry Cronin, Maintenance Custodian Kamel, and Project Specialist Andi Graceson all helped with planting day. 

We are looking forward to working with Andi to create a display with sustainable gardening resources, and maybe even adding a soil probe to the library of things!  

May 21, 2019

Rainy Day Sedge Planting

On this past Friday morning, the Concord Green Thumbs braved the rain and helped Melissa and Kate install the Pennsylvania Sedge in our sustainable landscaping demonstration garden at Junction Park. 

Thank you to the West Concord Green Thumbs! It looks fantastic!

May 20, 2019

Sustainable Landscaping Fair

The Cooler Concord Sustainable Landscaping Fair put on by CSEC was a success! It was a gorgeous day to showcase our very newly-installed demonstration garden at CCHS and talk with residents about ways to save water and energy here in Concord.  

I don't think I stopped talking with people for more than 2 minutes the entire time!  It was good to see all the familiar faces, meet many new people and learn from you all. I am very excited to learn more about commercial composting and left the fair feeling inspired. 

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat!

May 18, 2019

Just Plugging Away

We met some more CCHS AP Environmental Science students at the garden there first thing on Friday morning. They helped plant the Pennsylvania Sedge using a drill mounted auger - how could they pass up the opportunity to power plant!? It was a lot of fun to hear about their plans for the next year and how excited they were for prom that evening.   

May 17, 2019

CCHS Prep and Planting

The CCHS AP Environmental Science students came out on Thursday morning to help remove some of the existing plants at the site of the future demonstration garden. Boy, was it hot! Even though the area seemed small, site prep took a lot more effort than anticipated. Luckily, the Water and Sewer crew rescued us with their backhoe! They removed the rest of the existing grass so that the students were able to help lay the Microclover sod and install a few rows of Pennsylvania Sedge in the afternoon.  

May 17, 2019

Junction Park Microclover Installation

CPW Highway and Grounds Crew did an amazing job installing the Microclover drought tolerant fescue (grass) sod yesterday.

May 17, 2019 

Junction Park Site Preparation

As we prepare for the installation of the demonstration garden at Junction Park we needed to bring out the big machines to move some infrastructure, remove the existing vegetation and grade the site. Concord Public Works crews from the water and sewer Division and Highway and Grounds Division Spent a few days out there with some heavy machinery.  Think backhoes and sod cutters. 

A huge thank you to everyone that helped, I cant wait to see the finished product!

May 16, 2019

What does it mean to have a more sustainable landscape?

Having a sustainable landscape mean different things to different people.  Here are a few benefits of installing a more sustainable landscaping more sustainable.

  • Reduce ongoing maintenance
  • Support local insect populations
  • Require less fertilizer
  • Less water
  • Capture more carbon
  • Encourage groundwater recharge

May 6, 2019

Thank you MAPC and Barr Foundation!

This project has been something that I have wanted to do for years.  I am so happy that is has finally come to fruition!

MAPC and the Barr Foundation for believing in my vision and funding my crazy idea through MAPC’s Accelerating Climate Resiliency Municipal Mini-Grant Program. MAPC is the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, their mission is to promote smart growth and regional collaboration.

April 15, 2019


Meet the Sustainable Garden Team

2019-05-18 School Dig Day Melissa


Title – Senior Environmental and Regulatory Coordinator (and garden blogger extraordinaire)

Department – Public Works Water and Sewer Division

Why you love this project – In short people love their lawns, lawns love water, we don’t have enough water to keep up with the demand. This pilot is a way see if we can find a more sustainable way to achieve the ‘lawn look’ most Concord residents like.


Title – Water Quality and Resource Protection Intern (a rising Junior from WPI)

Department – Public Works Water and Sewer Division

Why you love this project – I love how we are taking a different approach to sustainability than is typically seen! In addition, I appreciate how this is an experiment that is specifically tailored to Concord’s needs and features in order to get the most effective results possible.

2019-05-30 School Emma Weeding (2)
2019-05-17 Junction Sedge Installation Kate


Title – Director of Sustainability (grant writing ninja)

Department – Town Manager’s Office

Why you love this project – I love this project because sustainable landscaping combines so many aspects of sustainability – water conservation, eliminating pesticides, improving resilience to extreme weather, reducing energy use, nature-based solutions to climate change, promoting native plants, supporting local economy, community engagement, and more!